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Infant deaths in California hit record low

May 22, 2012 |  2:59 pm

Newborns wait in the nursery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

Infant mortality in the state has dropped to a record low but racial disparities persist, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The rate of death among infants a year old or less decreased from 4.9 per 1,000 live births in 2009 to 4.7 deaths in 2010. Statistics for 2011 are not yet available.

Infant mortality dropped most dramatically among blacks, but their rates continue to be much higher than whites. Black infants died at a rate of 9.5 per 1,000 live births in 2010, down from 10.6 in 2009.

Public health officials say the decline in infant mortality could be connected to a drop in the number of women giving birth prematurely. Several other factors influence infant health, including whether the mother avoided tobacco and took prenatal vitamins during pregnancy.

California has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the U.S., according to the Department of Public Health.

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--Anna Gorman

Photo: Newborns wait in the nursery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

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